Americans receive about 100 billion pieces of paper based advertising mail per year, of which over 40% is not even read and more than 30% is not recycled. Figures vary depending on what you read, but they’re somewhere in the above ballpark. Regardless it is a huge amount of mail and is often unsolicited and not wanted, thus the term junk mail.
With minimal effort, you can reduce junk mail and get off catalog mailing lists. The two main benefits of this easy, green action are:
- It is a good for the environment—saves trees, energy, and water up front and reduces waste down the line.
- It can save you money—avoid buying stuff you didn’t want or “need” until you saw it in a catalog or on a sale advertisement flyer.
Getting the mail at our house requires hiking down the driveway and then up the street to the neighborhood mailbox cluster and back. It is excellent exercise especially this time of year when there is a pile of mail order catalogs and direct mail advertisements to carry home.
Over the past several months, I have been tackling unwanted paper catalogs by either opting out via company websites or email. This process does work. With the massive influx of catalogs at this time of year, I decided to step up my efforts and look for a way to streamline the process and broaden my approach to include more junk mail items.
Stop Junk Mail Before It Starts
Opt out up front by reading the “fine print” when you sign up for a credit card, buy something online, make a charitable donation, enter a contest, register on a website, or fill out a warranty card. Don’t give out your zip code or email address at the cash register. When you buy something online, choose the “no mail” option which is usually located under account or profile.
Two key pieces of information necessary for opting out of catalog mailing lists are available on the catalog (usually the back cover).
- Account or Customer Number (often printed in a blue box)
- Catalog Code, Key, or Source Code (often printed in a yellow box)
With this information in hand, there are several methods for getting off catalog mailing lists. It may take one or two catalog cycles to stop receiving catalogs.
Do It Yourself
Contact each company via email or opt out via their website. This is the method I had been using.
Simplify and streamline the process by using a free online service. I chose Catalog Choice. It took less than a minute to sign up and opting out of catalogs was easy. I selected the company name from an online list, filled in a brief online form, and clicked “submit request”. The site keeps track of the requests I’ve made so I don’t have to remember if I contacted a specific company, and I can easily track the status of my requests.
Take it to the next level with a fee service like 41pounds that not only eliminates unwanted catalogs but also can help with other junk mail.
Consumer Reporting Companies
Are you sick of getting offers for yet another credit card or insurance plan? Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit OptOutPrescreen to opt out for 5 years or permanently.
Direct Mail Marketing
Direct mail marketing pieces are viewed by many as junk mail. Opt out of receiving unsolicited mail from many (but not all) commercial companies for 5 years via the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Go to DMAchoice to register with DMA’s Mail Preference Service and/or Email Preference Service.
Although it’s not mail per se, telemarketing is viewed by many as junk calls. It’s hard to believe telemarketing works, but I guess it must or companies would stop doing it. The National Do Not Call Registry is a free and easy way to reduce telemarketing calls at home. Visit donotcall or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register.
Reuse and Recycle
Reuse catalogs and junk mail as packing materials or for those of you who are crafty, Google “reuse junk mail” for a list of ideas and projects. My favorite is creating a junk mail trash bin from junk mail.
Recycle catalogs and junk mail instead of tossing in the trash where it will eventually end up in a landfill. I always tear off and shred anything with my name and address on it.
Call to Action
During the holiday season, or anytime, give yourself, family, friends, and the planet a gift by taking action to stop junk mail and unsolicited catalogs. Save time and money. It’s easy and free.
- Black Friday Shopping — Just Say No
- I am an American Citizen not just an American Consumer
- Keeping up with the Joneses — Let’s Not
- Stuff — Less is More
- Take Control of Your Money — Pay Bills Online
- 41pounds (link inactive as of September 2019)
- Catalog Choice
- National Do Not Call Registry
- U.S. Federal Trade Commission